Oklahoma Teen Convicted In "Thrill Kill" Murder Of College Baseball Player Now Faces Life In Prison
The young man accused killing of college baseball player and Australian student Christopher Lane has been convicted of murder, reported CNN on Saturday. Oklahoma teen Chancey Allen Luna was found guilty of first degree murder on Friday, after shooting Lane while he jogged through his girlfriend's neighborhood in August 2013. The 17-year-old now faces a possible sentence of life in prison, as recommended by the panel of jurors.
According to official reports, Luna — along with friends James Edwards Jr., 15, and Michael Jones, 17 — was simply "bored" when he and the two teens made the decision to kill someone, telling police that they "had nothing better to do". The three piled into Jones' car and were headed out to pick a victim, said police, when they came across Lane.
"They witnessed a young man run by on the street," said Police Chief Danny Ford in a comment to CNN affiliate KSWO in August 2013. "[They] chose him as the target." Ford told the news outlet that multiple witnesses recalled seeing Lane "stagger across the road, go to a kneeling position and collapse," as the young men drove off.
After handing down a guilty verdict on Friday, jurors in the case recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
As he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs, a stoic Luna told reporters, "I'm sorry — I'm sorry." However, for Lane's family, who hail from Melbourne, the conviction was a relief.
"It's been extremely tough, tough to be so far from home, tough to see my three daughters have to go through this," Lane's mother, Donna told court reporters after the verdict. "This naughty boy is never going to do this to any other family."
Luna's lawyer, lead defense attorney Jim Berry, had long maintained that his client didn't shoot with intent to kill, reminding jurors of his client's age several times throughout the five-day trial.
"Boys at 16 take stupid, senseless, thoughtless actions," said Berry, according to a court report by The Oklahoman on Friday. "They work on impulse, hormones, whatever, [and] do not make a rational decision as you would in your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s." Berry did not deny that Luna was the gunman, which at least one juror said was a serious mistake.
"Probably wasn’t the right thing for his attorney to say," said the juror. "He hung his own client."
At the time of his death, 23-year-old Lane was enrolled at East Central University and had a baseball scholarship. According to court documents, it only took the jury one hour to decide on Luna's murder conviction. "We just felt like that was the proper thing to do," said the juror, who lamented the loss of a life otherwise filled with opportunity.
Luna is set to be formally sentenced in June.
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